Chairman thanks Town’s supporters
As this year ends, I have been looking back on the past 12 months and considering the progress and future of the Club.
After a great start to last season, which everyone realistically knew would be very hard to keep up, we started 2013 in the middle of a bad run of form. The run got far worse - we took some hammerings - and eventually it led to us change manager. Recruiting a new one, and all that goes with it, made the early part of 2013 difficult for everyone; when so much is at stake and so much hard work is at risk, not to mention lots of investment, tough decisions cannot be shirked and must be tackled head on.
My thanks go to the caretaker team, who steadied our ship whilst we brought Mark Robins in to lead us forward.
When we set about the task of bringing in a new manager we were faced with two very different challenges. Firstly we needed someone to do a very short term ‘emergency’ job of leading us to avoid relegation. After lots of ups and downs, we just managed to survive and retain our hard-fought Championship status by the skin of our teeth on the final day much to everyone’s relief - such are the fine margins in football!
Next we wanted a manager to implement a new philosophy and approach to football at the Club.
The summer then saw a number of players who served the Club well depart for pastures new. Notably, I thank Tom Clarke, Scott Arfield, Lee Novak and Alan Lee, who each played their part for us.
With Mark at the helm, we have now set about the longer term task of creating our own football philosophy and way of doing things. He has embraced what are trying to do, what the Club is all about and shares our belief that we can be successful without competing on finances. I firmly believe this is the best way for us to compete in the Championship and be successful.
I believe we have recruited well in 2013, signing proven players of the calibre of James Vaughan, Jonathan Hogg and Adam Hammill whilst also bringing in players with development potential like Daniel Carr and Jake Carroll. I also believe that the transfer deals we’ve conducted have represented excellent value for the Club.
Once again, we saw a player we have developed move on to the Premier League for a club record fee for an Academy player when Jack Hunt join Crystal Palace. Like ‘Pilks’, ‘Pelts’ and Jordan before him, all at the Club wish him every success and will welcome him back in future. Buying, selling and developing players, if it is done well, is really rewarding and makes a big difference.
The Academy has developed too, benefitting from improved facilities, systems and procedures coming from the Elite Player Performance Plan. Canalside is a facility to be proud of. It is great to see our U18s doing so well under the coaching of Frankie Bunn and Tony Carss. The U21 Senior Professional Development squad is working with Steve Eyre providing a crucial pathway from U18s into the First Team ranks. The likes of Tommy Smith, Duane Holmes and Jordan Sinnott are in and around the First Team, with others set to follow. To be honest, I find player development exciting! If you get the chance to see them in action, please come to watch at Canalside.
Our model of balanced recruitment with proven and development players being brought in, plus home grown players being given pathways, is starting to work.
In the new season so far, the First Team has started to develop a style and method of passing football that I have not seen for many years at Town. This is being adopted through the whole club. Fans are telling me all the time they are enjoying the way we are playing and I’m really pleased with the way the fans have responded and supported the players. This is very encouraging for our long term future.
Off the field, the staff are doing all they can in a tough climate. Their hard work can go unnoticed a lot of the time and deserves real credit. We are all in this together as ‘One Club’; the Football team, Academy, Business off-the-field and our Community.
I would like to thank all the staff at the Club for their hard work in 2013 and every single supporter and business who has parted with their hard-earned cash to support us both home or away and with our community work.
Looking forward, improving on and off the field never stops, but that progress takes time. I know the speed of our progress may be too slow at times for some, but it is actually worth looking back and seeing the changes the Club has undergone since the Centenary - and more recently in 2013 - and then looking at other clubs.
When some football clubs and owners seem totally out of touch with their fans and communities, I am proud to be a Town fan, living in the community and playing a part in it. Our work through the Town Foundation and Keep it Up Campaign has seen 60,000 breakfasts served and £980,000 raised respectively. Together the Club and its fans make a difference. That is special and what the Club is about. Strong values make a ‘proper club’, in my view.
Some clubs are so focussed on the future that they have lost sight of their Club’s identity and see it as a barrier to progress, but I’m proud to celebrate the history and heritage of Huddersfield Town – so there are no name changes or switches in the colour of the strip to worry about!
At a time when some have forgotten the lessons of the past and are prepared to risk financial ruin in pursuit of glory, I’m proud of our approach to finances and running the Club. I understand there will always be shouts for the next big signing though, of course!
All in all, through honest hard work, being ‘at it’, by doing the right things, being smart and behaving in the right way, I think we will get our reward. The future looks bright and exciting.
Thanks for your support; have a Happy New Year!